When Emma Raducanu secured a Grand Slam singles title at last year’s US Open – the first British woman in 44 years to do so – she swiftly became a household name.
What the 19-year-old tennis star from Bromley has achieved is not just global fame but global adoration – starting on home turf. In December 2021 she won BBC Sports Personality of the Year, while she has also fronted the cover of British Vogue.
As a young, female tennis star who’s mixed race (born to a Romanian father and Chinese mother), she’s also a beacon of hope to many who see her as a role model. And she takes this seriously – for instance, addressing fans on social media in Romanian and Mandarin, which she speaks fluently, and serving as an ambassador for LTA Youth.
As for her flourishing tennis career, Emma is currently ranked number 13 in the world, a number which for some would be unlucky, but for Emma represents an astonishing feat (she was ranked 338 when she entered Wimbledon in 2021). There’s a sense that this is just the beginning for Emma: at time of writing there are widespread predictions that she might make a top 10 spot before the summer season.
In the wake of her Grand Slam victory, she’s secured a quick succession of major brand endorsement deals, with the likes of Tiffany & Co, Dior, British Airways – and of course Evian, for whom Emma is a global ambassador. We’re speaking today ahead of Emma’s appearance at a glitzy launch event for the leading water brand’s first sparkling range – Evian Sparkling – held in collaboration with the (appropriately sparkly) glitter artist Sara Shakeel.
Of course, as with many overnight success stories – overnight success happens after a lifetime of sweat, and in a tennis superstar’s case, this rings true. She first started playing tennis aged five at her local tennis club, the Bromley Tennis Centre, while there’s YouTube footage of a nine-year-old Emma in the midst of an “epic rally” at the National Tennis Centre in 2011.
While tennis has remained a mainstay throughout her life, Emma also did everything from golf to ballet. She considers sport something that’s been key to her continued self-belief, as she told British Vogue in her cover interview last year, she was once a “very shy little girl”, and “through playing a sport, and having to be bold on the court and fearless and fight, it’s given me inner strength”
It’s this self-belief – and willingness to, as Emma puts it, “stay in [her] own lane” that sets her apart – and comes across in this interview. In conversation with GLAMOUR, Emma talks about the moment she feels most empowered, the value of keeping things simple with her fitness regime –plus, her love of poke bowls and fro yo.
You were awarded Sports Personality of the Year in December 2021. What was the significance to you of winning that award?
Thanks. It was a great achievement for me – a pretty incredible year. So to top it off with Sports Personality of the Year definitely meant a lot. It was a real honour to just be included in that list, and to be a part of the past champions and winners.